By Andrea Di Ubaldo
As Albert Einstein once said, “Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving.”
Indeed, Dr. Fiona Costello and Dr. Andrew Demchuk seem to have found their perfect balance by constantly moving. Both were recently named to the Caldwell Partners International’s Top 40 Under 40 list.
The award is given to individuals who have shown vision and leadership; innovation and achievement; impact; community involvement and contribution; and growth / development strategy. Out of approximately 1200 nominees, Costello and Demchuk are two out of six physician scientists awarded this honour as chosen by an independent advisory board.
Balancing, more like juggling
For Demchuk, co-leader of the Attacking Stroke program at the Hotchkiss Brain Institute in the Faculty of Medicine, it’s all about the ‘Big 5’: education; administration; research; clinical care; and family. Not necessarily in that order.
“I try to do all things because I like all five,” Demchuk says. “I have a great wife who manages most of the day-to-day raising of our two boys; I’m a quality time kind of guy, so I get to do the fun stuff with the boys at night and on weekends.”
Demchuk is the director of the Calgary Stroke Program, chair of Pillar 2 (Acute Care and Emergency Services) of the Alberta Provincial Stroke Strategy, past-chair of the Board of Directors of the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Alberta, NWT and Nunavut, and an associate professor with the Departments of Clinical Neurosciences and the Department of Radiology at UCalgary.
In addition to his teaching and clinical practice, Demchuk is also a world-renowned researcher whose primary research interests lie in the area of cerebral vascular imaging and its application in developing new treatments for those who have suffered from stroke. .
He admits to verging on workaholic status, as a director, teacher, researcher, physician, husband and father.
Kids keep things in perspective
“I have four kids aged eight, five, three and six-months. It’s often a gong show,” Costello laughs. “I’m married to a great guy, who has a very demanding career. It’s tough to balance, but we work well together.”
Costello is a clinician scientist and co-director of the NeuroProtection and Repair Evaluation Unit (NPREU) with the Arresting Multiple Sclerosis (MS) program at the Hotchkiss Brain Institute at the Faculty of Medicine and an associate professor in the Department of Clinical Neurosciences. Her research and clinical expertise are in the areas of neuro-ophthalmology and multiple sclerosis. Together with her collaborators, she has been awarded $2.5 million research grant funding to implement a novel experimental model of MS she has developed in ongoing studies.
“I use the visual system as a means of finding new ways to look at old problems.
The eye can give us many insights into mechanisms of brain injury, and help us better understand diseases like multiple sclerosis,” she says.
“It’s a great honour because this award isn’t restricted to the medical community,” 39-year-old Costello says. “Everyone goes in on an even playing field, all experts in their respective areas.”
Demchuk, also 39, believes it’s an honour for both him and his team. “It’s a bit of validation for all of the hours and days of work we put in. My CV would be miniscule without a team.”
Costello says her kids have made her a better physician and person and much better at time management. “My kids have forced me to be more focused and less self – indulgent with my time.”
“And kids don’t care what awards you’ve won,” she adds.
About the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Calgary
UCalgary’s Faculty of Medicine is a national leader in health research with an international reputation for excellence and innovation in health care research, education and delivery. We train the next generation of health practitioners and move new treatments and diagnostic techniques from the laboratory bench to the hospital bedside, improving patient care. For more information visit http://medicine.ucalgary.ca. or follow us on twitter.com @UofCMedicine.
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